The ex-wife of Orlando gunman Omar Mateen said she is heartbroken for the 50 people killed by her "mentally unstable" former husband.

Sitora Yusifiy, who was married to Mateen in 2009 for four months, said she was rescued from the violent relationship by her family, branding her ex-husband "mentally ill".

Yusifiy, who said she had not had any contact with her ex-husband for seven years, told Reuters: "He was mentally unstable and mentally ill – that's the only explanation that I can give and he was obviously disturbed."

She said of the moment she heard about the shootings: "I was woken up by my parents calling me saying 'Sitora wake up, Sitora wake up' and I thought something horrible happened.

"I thought: 'Oh, my God, what happened,' and I called them and the first thing that they told me was your ex-husband was involved in a mass shooting and reporters are at our house calling us and they will be probably at your house, too," Yusifiy said.

"I was devastated, shocked, I started shaking and crying because more than anything I was so so deeply hurt and heartbroken for the people who lost their loved ones, the families that are now suffering, the people that are wounded that are healing."

"To be in some way affiliated at one point in my life to somebody that caused such a tragedy was... it shook me," she added.

Yusifiy was rescued from the violent marriage by her family after Mateen began hitting her, and she had seen nothing of her husband until hearing the news that he had opened fire in gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando, killing 50 people and injuring 53 others.

"He started abusing me physically, very often, and not allowing me to speak to my family, keeping me hostage from them," Yusufiy told Pix11.

She added the night her family had come to save her, they booked her an emergency flight and she left so quickly she didn't have time to take any of her belongings with her.

The couple's divorce was finalised a year and a half later, conducted long distance between her home in New Jersey and his in Florida.

Mateen's family have also spoken out about the attack, with his father Mir Seddique Mateen speaking of his son's anger at seeing two men kissing in Miami several months ago.